Wendy Reese: Be Doers of the Word
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Doers of the Word 

Knowledge isn’t enough.

BYU students attend a BYU devotional assembly.
As a BYU student Sarah Davila is learning to combine faith, knowledge, and action to become a doer of the word.

IT’S BEEN SAID you can’t lean on a shovel and expect a hole. If we expect results from our labor, action is required—and that also goes for our learning and other endeavors. 

A fundamental characteristic of a disciple of Jesus Christ is doing the will of the Father. The Savior Himself said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). The apostle James taught powerfully the difference between just hearing the words of the Lord and acting on those words: Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22). 

Doers of the word move beyond the mere accumulation of knowledge and internalize and apply the teachings of the restored gospel. Imagine owning the most exquisite recipe collection but never making any of the recipes. Similarly, our faith remains dormant when confined to intellectual understanding alone. Living the gospel, acting on promptings from the Spirit, and heeding the words of prophets and apostles draw us closer to the Savior and strengthen our testimony of Him. 

I am amazed at the way BYU students go and do! President Reese (BS ’94, MS ’95) and I love it when students let their light shine. We love their commitment to their education, both academic and spiritual. They are truly examples of fulfilling what President Spencer W. Kimball described as “a double heritage—the preserving of the knowledge of men and the revealed truths sent from heaven.”¹ 

Embracing our double heritage—or being “bilingual”2—is part of what it means to “become BYU.”3 One of the fundamental assumptions of becoming BYU is that we must not only hear the words of prophets, seers, and revelators, but we must act on those words. We must be doers and not just hearers. 

Sarah J. Davila (’24), a first-generation college student, knew there was no other school that would mix her faith with her education like BYU. Her training and classes led her to become a language coordinator for the BYU Speeches website, where she works with other students to translate both the speakers’ words and the spirit of their messages. She said, “My experiences at BYU have been empowering. The fact that there can be a beautiful blend of scholarly and spiritual knowledge is incredibly special.”4 

Students like Sarah follow the Savior’s example to “[go] about doing good” (Acts 10:38). They are doing more than just accumulating knowledge; they are doing good. 

The Savior is our perfect example. Jesus did more than just feel compassion for others; He acted to serve and lift those around Him. Following His example of doing will help us feel of His love and in turn show our gratitude and love for Him. 

Portrait of Wendy Reese.

Wendy Reese is the wife of BYU president C. Shane Reese. This essay is adapted from a devotional address she delivered Jan. 9, 2024. Read the full text at speeches.byu.edu.

Feedback Send comments on this article to magazine@byu.edu.


  1. Spencer W. Kimball, “Education for Eternity,” address to BYU faculty and staff, Sept. 12, 1967.
  2. Spencer W. Kimball, “The Second Century of Brigham Young University,” BYU devotional address, Oct. 10, 1975.
  3. C. Shane Reese, “Becoming BYU: An Inaugural Response,” address delivered at his inauguration as BYU president, Sept. 19, 2023.
  4. Shelby Clark, “BYU Student Uses the Gift of Language to Bless Others,” BYU News, Nov. 1, 2023.